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Revista Médica del Uruguay

Print version ISSN 0303-3295On-line version ISSN 1688-0390


TABORDA, Ana et al. Usefulness of molecular biology techniques in neuroinfectious diseases. Rev. Méd. Urug. [online]. 2020, vol.36, n.3, pp.65-86.  Epub Sep 01, 2020. ISSN 0303-3295.


a certain percentage of infections of the central nervous system have no etiological diagnosis. Nucleic acids amplification techniques by means of a polymerase chain reaction in real time may reduce this percentage.


to describe etiology of neuroinfectious diseases and assess the usefulness of molecular biology techniques in their diagnosis, as well as its impact on antimicrobial treatment.


observational, descriptive, retrospective study based on clinical records which included patients older than 18 years old, who had been assisted in a public hospital in Montevideo for over 32 months and had undergone molecular biology techniques with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) given the clinical suspicion of neuroinfection.


109 patients were included in the study. Among non-HIV infected patients who had not undergone neurosurgeries the responsible microorganism was identified in 16 cases (8 bacteria and 9 virus). They were all identified by molecular biology techniques by modifying the empiric antimicrobial therapy in 25 cases (34.2%). In carriers of HIV (25.7%), microorganisms were identified in 14 patients (50%). Six virus, 5 bacteria and 7 fungi (Cryptococcus neoformans). Molecular biology techniques defined the diagnosis of 17 microorganisms and modified the initial antimicrobial plan in 12 cases (42.9%). In patients with a history of recent neurosurgery (7.3%), 6 microorganisms were isolated, 3 of them exclusively through cultures. Treatment was modified in 3 cases (37.5%).


molecular biology techniques need to be regarded as a complement. The impact that have in diagnosis and therapy justify their use despite its higher cost.

Keywords : Central nervous system infections; Molecular biology; Meningitis.

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